New Zealand v England First Test Review: Disappointing Result but the Future Looks Bright
What on Earth happened? I went to bed and the only wicket we had lost was that of Joe Root. When I woke up, we had lost by an innings and 65 runs.
Root’s shot is the clearest example of where the England Test Team is at right now. After coming out before this series saying that they are looking to be more solid at the wicket, play less risky shots and bat for longer, Root pulled out of a 70mph long-hop from Colin de Grandhomme and guided it straight to gully. Six months ago, he would have tried cutting that over point to the boundary.
Yes, it’s frustrating sometimes as a fan to watch England collapse after playing rash shots but sadly we suffered the same result overnight from trying to play a more low-risk style.
As a fan, and England’s biggest supporter and defender, this defeat has affected me more than most. I’m not sure whether it’s because I am tired from staying up late each night to watch it or because I’ve finally realised that we have serious problems.
It was said this week that the target is The Ashes in 2021. That’s fair. It’s the biggest and best Test Series in world cricket. What worries me is how we performed on a flat wicket in Mount Maunganui against, let’s be honest, pretty average cricketers when most tracks in Australia will be like that and their batting, and bowling, is a lot stronger than New Zealand’s.
We can look back on England’s first innings as two halves. They scored slowly and finished day one in a solid position. Stokes looked classy but gave his wicket away easily. The team’s score of 353 should have been at least 450 and the game can’t be lost. If you are going to bat first and play with less risk, surely building a score where you can’t lose the game is the sole target?
There were positives to take from the first innings. Burns looked good again. Denly seems to be a decent number 3. Pope showed signs of his talent but gave his wicket away. However, Root’s form is a huge concern. His average has dropped from being in the fifties to being under forty since being made captain. Is it time for someone else to take on that job? We need our best batsman back! Then again, who else, apart from Ben Stokes, could take it on?
The bowling worries me slightly. Yes, we miss Jimmy Anderson. There isn’t a team in the world who wouldn’t miss him, but England showed very little to frighten anyone on a flat deck. Archer bowled one hostile spell at the end of day 2 and caused serious bother, and that was about it. Curran is sadly too slow when the ball doesn’t swing, Broad looked out of sorts and Stokes was probably the pick of the bunch.
That said, New Zealand played well. They batted well, bowled well and fielded better than England. Whether Stokes’s dropped catch would have made a difference to the result, we will never know.
What we do know is England can bounce straight back. After all, this is a team who won a test match in the summer after being bowled out for 67 in the first innings! However, we do need our big guns to start firing and our captain to start scoring some runs.
The second test match starts at 22.00 GMT on Thursday 28th November at Seddon Park, Hamilton